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When Do I Install a Water Softener and What are Its Benefits?

When Do I Install a Water Softener and What are Its Benefits?

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What Is Hard Water?

Hard water. Most likely you’ve drank it, showered in it, even watered your lawn with it. But what is it? Hard water is water that contains a high concentration of minerals; specifically calcium, magnesium, iron, bicarbonates and sulfates. The contaminants in hard water may be harmless to your body, but they sure are not harmless to your pipes! Contaminants clog your drains which can shorten the lifespan of your kitchen and bathroom plumbing. They also make your soap and detergent less soluble which causes that ugly buildup on your silverware. 

If you notice water spots on your spoons, knives and forks — the culprit may be hard water. Cloudy, gritty or odorous water  — again, hard water. You may have seen rusty stains on your toilets, tubs, sinks and showers. Or maybe that gross-looking lime build-up on your showerheads and plumbing fixtures. Most likely? Hard water. All you have to do is look around your home to see its effects. So, when should you install a water softener? It is certainly a personal choice for each homeowner, but if your water’s hardness exceeds 7 grains per gallon (120mg/L), then it may be time to get that water softened.  

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How Do Water Softeners Work?

Water softeners improve the look, smell and taste of your water by undergoing a water treatment process called ion exchange. Water is held in a conditioning tank where contaminants such as calcium and magnesium are exchanged for ions like sodium and potassium. 

Disadvantages? Relatively minor. Due to the sodium increase in soft water, there are potential health risks to people who need low sodium diets. The ion exchange adds 7.5 milligrams per quart of sodium for each gpg of hardness removed. If a family member has high blood pressure they would experience an increase in salt intake. It’s best to check with one’s doctor to see if water softening is right for your household. As an alternative, there are water softeners that exchange potassium chloride instead of sodium. There are also salt-free softeners that use a different treatment process called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC). This converts contaminants into hard crystals that don’t stick to surfaces (reducing scale buildup). As a note, the calcium, iron, and magnesium minerals removed from hard water are not harmful to the body — only to appliances. However, removing these minerals from your diet, may be a health disadvantage.

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So, What are the Benefits of a Water Softener?

  • Higher Plumbing Durability: The most important benefit is increasing your plumbing and appliance lifespan. Instead of letting calcium and magnesium buildup  ruin your expensive faucets, pipes, washing machines or laundry machines, use a softener to preserve them. Softeners also help unclog drains that could end up costing you buckets of money. Water based appliances, such as solar heating systems and air conditioning units benefit from water softeners as well.
  • Spotless Dishes: Silverware, glasses, tea kettles, pots, pans and sinks no longer have to have that gritty, dirty feel after being washed. Spotty spoons and filmy plates occur because the minerals in hard water adhere to surfaces. Amazingly, since mineral deposits in hard water can stick to anything, they can also attach to your windows, counters or curtains, leaving them dingy and scummy. With your water softener, you can remove the film from your dishes, surfaces and utensils, leaving them crystal clean.
  • Shinier Hair and Softer Skin: Another major benefit of water softeners is they decrease dry skin and dull hair after you shower. That same filmy coat left on your dishes also coats your skin and hair when you bathe with hard water. This is due to contaminants in the water making it difficult for your soap to lather, which causes insolubility. The soap residue left on your body can clog your pores. Minerals in the hard water can even absorb the moisture out of your skin, leaving you with that itchy, irritated feeling. Insoluble soap impacts the scum left behind on your tub floor as well. So, if you want soft skin, shiny hair and don’t want to spend all day scrubbing soap scum off your shower floors, a water softener may do the trick. 
  • Cleaner Clothes: Insolubility also strikes in the laundry machine. Got a fresh batch of clothes you don’t want to leave mineral stains on? Hard water will leave its mark due to the difficulty of lathering the soap in your machine. It also leaves fabric stiff. With a water softener your clothes end up looking brighter, cleaner and lasting longer. Scrub that worry right out of your life with a water softener.
  • Better Taste: This is a good one. Say goodbye to smelly odors and foul taste. While they may not remove all your water odors, water softeners can help your drinking water taste better by removing the metallic taste of iron. Some water softeners even have a fluoride dispenser for added taste. 
  • Easy and Affordable Installation: Finally, a water softener is affordable and easy to implement into your home. Depending on your preferred system it can range anywhere from $100 – $2500. But the savings are miraculous. Less re-washing, fewer repairs, and longer lasting pipes. Moreover, a good water softener can last you from 10-20 years.  Definitely worth the investment. 
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If you want easier cleaning, longer longevity of your water-based appliances, spotless cutlery and soft, shiny hair (who doesn’t?) — a water softener is for you. Give Plymouth Plumbing and Heating a call to find the best water softener for your home today. We carry Hellenbrand water softeners, the option on the market. We are happy to offer both water softener repair and installation.